Model shoot - Behind the scenes

One of the challenges about portrait photography is how to get light that shows off your subject in the most flattering way. The most stunning looking person will provide at best only average looking pictures if the light is bad. One of the easiest ways is to control the light yourself by making use of flash or continuous lighting, the other is to use natural light and bend it in such a way that you can control how it illuminates your subject. 

My home studio is pretty much lit via flash, but for a recent shoot I decided to seek out some good natural light all be it, indoors. My search took me to the Wayne Center of the Arts here in Wooster, a venerable old building situated in the center of town. Inside they cater to a large mix of artistic needs, from pottery to ballet.

My daughter Abby (above), is an accomplished dancer as a result of the training she received there over the years. Inside it feels like on old school building, the dark oak floor worn with a million footsteps from the eager aspiring artists over the years. Upstairs are the large dance studios and a couple of classrooms, all surrounded by beautiful large windows, exactly what I was looking for and available to rent by the hour. Perfect.

My subject was a little late for the shoot but it did give me plenty of time to set up and plan what kind of shots I wanted. Rae is a young model and the kind of pictures she needs for her portfolio need to show off her features and figure more than they need to be artistic in nature so a mix of shots would be needed. Inside the room the walls are all white which bounces the light all over the place, just what we needed. I hung some white transparent cloth over one of the windows to soften the light entering at that point, which would help flatten the light out even more, acting as a huge softbox.

Eventually Rae and her friend arrived and we got down to choosing outfits and discussing what we were going to do. We took  some shots in the outfit she'd arrived in first, just so I could see how she took direction and so she could get used to what I was asking for.

Then we chose the ever flattering little black dress. It never fails to look good in a photograph or in real life! Rae also has almost perfect skin so her photos required remarkably less processing than most.

The session was one of mutual benefit to both Rae and I as we were both looking to get images that would spruce up or portfolios. It's often a good way for both models and photographers to get new images for the cost of time alone.  Models will often travel with an escort (something I encourage them to do when working with a new photographer), and I often put them to use holding reflectors or lights for the odd shot. Julien was keen on photography so I gave him my Fujifilm X 100T and let him shoot away as me and Rae worked. 


The final shots included using an old piano that was kept in the room, which was a great prop to have on hand for a more candid looking portrait.

All in all it was a fun shoot and we were both happy with the shots we got out of it. I have another session planned at the WCA in the near future, so if you're a fan of dancers keep an eye out here.